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Zócalo Public Square announces 2021 Book and Poetry Prize winners

Immigration and 'La Mujer' set tone for this year's winners' list

book cover for "One Might and Irresistible Tide" next to portrait of woman
April 26, 2021

Zócalo Public Square, the space where people and ideas connect, has announced author Jia Lynn Yang as the winner of the 2021 Zócalo Public Square Book Prize and Angelica Esquivel as this year’s Poetry Prize honoree. Awards will be presented in a virtual ceremony on May 20.

Yang receives the $10,000 Book Prize for her acclaimed nonfiction work "One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration 1924–1965." Inspired by the experience of the arrival of her own family to the United States from Asia, Yang’s book chronicles the efforts of a group of activists and lawmakers in a hard-fought battle to overturn almost 40 years of restrictive immigration laws culminating in the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. 

Yang is the national editor for The New York Times. She was previously deputy national security editor at The Washington Post, where she was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Trump and Russia.

Esquivel is a writer and multimodal artist. She won the Poetry Prize for "La Mujer," an original work that was selected from more than 900 poetry submissions. Esquivel will receive a $1,000 prize for her poem.

“Every year we seek to honor an author and a poet who best capture the ephemeral idea of human connectedness,” said Moira Shourie, executive director of Zócalo Public Square. “It's part of Zócalo's mission and it's what we strive for in our work. We are proud to present Ms. Yang and Ms. Esquivel to our audience.”

Five additional poems were also selected for honorable mentions for Zócalo’s 2021 Poetry Prize: "Winter Hatchlings for the New Year" by Ernesto L. Abeytia; "Valley of Want" by Ross White; "They Have Built a Home Over Ours" by Sophia Chong; "in other news" by Sophie Klahr; and "The Fourth of You Lie" by LeConté Dill. Each honorable mention will be recognized with $100 awards. The poems also will be published on Zócalo’s website.

Yang and Esquivel will be honored during a virtual awards event to be livestreamed on multiple digital platforms on May 20 starting at 5 p.m. PDT (8 p.m. EDT.) The event will include a discussion between Yang and Tomás Jiménez, professor of sociology at Stanford University and author of the book "The Other Side of Assimilation: How Immigrants are Changing American Life." Screenwriter and philanthropist Tim Disney will announce the winners as both a presenter and sponsor of this year’s event.

Founded in Los Angeles in 2003, Zócalo Public Square is an ASU Knowledge Enterprise. Zócalo connects people to ideas and to one another by examining essential questions in an accessible, broad-minded and democratic spirit. It pursues its mission by convening events and by publishing ideas journalism syndicated to 290 media outlets worldwide.

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